How to Clean Linoleum Floors

Linoleum floors require a different kind of cleaning process than many other types of flooring – even vinyl. When learning how to clean linoleum floors, keep in mind that the makeup of linoleum is such that any kind of harsh chemical with a high pH base will not only dissolve the dirt and grime – but they’ll begin to dissolve your floor as well. It’s best to use cleaning products that are natural, and if you have to use chemicals, do so sparingly.

1) Assemble Your Supplies

- Before you begin cleaning, it’s a good idea to get everything together in one place. That way you won’t be scrambling to find something while vinegar or cleaner sits on your floor.

- Gather together a large bucket or bowl, a 100% cotton cloth or rag, a nylon scrub brush or handheld cleaning pad mop, and vinegar. If your floor is particularly dirty, you may need to use ammonia to strip the accumulated dirt. If you’re concerned about shine, pick up either a paste or liquid wax to be used after cleaning.

2) Prepare Your Materials

- Fill your bucket with a mixture of warm water and vinegar, using your best judgment as to the amount of vinegar you’ll need. The dirtier the floor, the more vinegar you’ll need to use – and the best part is, vinegar will not damage your floor, nor will the linoleum soak it up, since linoleum isn’t a porous material. Vinegar has only about 5% acidity, which means you can use as much as you want without being concerned about damage.

- Using warm water is best for cleaning, and on your hands. Water that’s very hot or too cold doesn’t tend to do the best job on a surface, but more importantly, you could hurt yourself.

3) Start Cleaning

- Dip your cloth into the water and vinegar solution, and wring it out gently. The cloth should be wet but not dripping. Since many linoleum floors aren’t sealed correctly around the edges, you don’t want to let the vinegar or water pool around the floor edges and either soak your carpet or sink into the floorboards. Also, excess water isn’t really necessary – linoleum isn’t a difficult material to clean, so more water won’t exactly be to your benefit anyway.

- Wrap the cloth around the scrub brush or the bottom of the mop with cleaning pads removed. Push the cloth back and forth across the linoleum floor. Doing this twice is the best method for getting all the grime removed – once for a surface cleaning, and a second time for the tough spots.

4) Problem Areas

- If you notice a distinct lack of shine due to grime accumulation that even vinegar can’t get out, you’ll have to resort to chemicals. To strip it of the dirt, spread ammonia onto your floor in small sections – allow it to sit on the problem area for a few minutes – and then take your nylon scrub brush and scrub the section.

- When you’ve finished with the ammonia, use your vinegar and water solution to rinse the floor well. This will get rid of any potential residue that might remain.

5) Finishing Touches

- To bring back the same amount of shine that your linoleum had when it was first new, buff the floor with a paste or liquid wax. Use a cloth to spread it around in a thin layer, and allow it to dry completely before walking on the floor. If necessary, add a second coat!